Non-essential workers are advised to work from home, but most are unprepared to set up an office at home. If you do not have a proper desk or chair, there is a big chance that you are going to suffer the consequences of bad posture. Research says that back and neck pain or arm and wrist strain are more commonplace with being tied to a desk.
But during this time, we might as well be proactive by making good posture a habit whether we sit or stand.
It’s never too late to change things up a bit in your makeshift office. Doing simple exercises as well as being mindful of your body alignment while working can make a difference.
But First -- What Is Proper Posture?
Good posture has two components: There is dynamic posture for when you are actively moving, and static posture pertains to how you hold your body when sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Correct posture maintains the spine’s three natural curves -- the neck, mid-back, and lower back. The head is situated above the shoulders, and the shoulders are above the hips. These principles apply to both sitting and standing positions.
Poor Posture Is Prevalent
But nowadays, poor posture is one of the problems that plague those who are always sitting down and staring at a laptop or monitor. Technology may be a culprit, but we can control how we respond to these workplace situations.
Here are ways how we can make a conscious effort to change the situation as you work from home.
Problem No. 1: Hunching Your Shoulders
With the sudden order to work from home, we have to compensate for the lack of proper office furniture like an ergonomic table or chair. Instead, we use what we have: The sofa, the coffee table, or the dining table and chairs. Those were not usually created for an ergonomic workplace so the tendency is that we stoop down and crane our neck to get better access to our computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
When this happens, the rotator cuff tendons put pressure on the coracoacromial arch of the shoulder. This will eventually cause pain with reaching movements or sudden changes of motion in the shoulders. News flash: Even when you are asleep, you may still feel the pain in this area.
Solution: Proper sitting position where the shoulders are relaxed will ease some of the pain from bad posture. Squeezing your back and shoulders can also reduce any discomfort from non-alignment.
If you want to have a chair with great support for your back, your best bet is to purchase ergonomic furniture like this.
Problem No. 2: Slouching
Slouching on your chair may be relaxing for a while but it strains the muscles, ligaments, discs and other components of your back. Ideally, your back should be in a neutral position, relaxed and supported by a chair. When the back is not positioned properly for long intervals, it would result in that nasty back pain. If left unchecked, it can eventually lead to injuries.
Solution: These are some steps that you can follow: Sit back on a chair with a pillow that supports your spine, distribute your weight between your hips, do not let the head or chin jut forward. Lastly, move around and shift from sitting and standing positions every now and then to avoid the wearing of the soft, elastic tissue in your muscles, ligaments and tendons in your back.
An ergonomic chair that reclines at an angle would help. But if you do not have a working chair, you can use an ergonomic cushion or attach a rolled towel on your chair to remind yourself to preserve the inward bending of the lower back.
Problem No. 3: Unsupported Feet and Legs
Sometimes, we use a table and chair with the wrong height. This causes us to dangle our legs, cross them, or put them on the chair instead -- all of which can lead to back, feet, and leg pain after a few hours.
Solution: Make sure that the leg is supported while you work. The feet should be flat on the floor and wide and hip apart so that your body weight is evenly distributed.
Another alternative is to use books or steel to give the feet and legs the assistance they need. Or to make things easier, buy an ergonomic anti-fatigue mat or footrest to absorb the pressure on the feet and legs whether you sit or stand.
Take a Break Even If You Work From Home
Poor posture is linked to prolonged sitting so experts say that moving around is the way to go. You can try to use a posture reminder app so that you won’t forget to arch and stretch your back throughout the day. Here are some helpful apps that you might want to try.
You can incorporate exercises for the back, especially if you have already developed sciatica from too much back strain. If meditation is your thing, you can use this as a guide, too.
Create an Ergonomic Workstation
One of the things you can consider is to build an ergonomic home office. If you do not know where to start, read this checklist of essential ergonomic furniture.
The number one item on the list is a height adjustable sit and stand desk so that you do not have to stay in one position all day long. With the table, you can sneak in a few physical activities even when you do not realize it.
At the end of the day, your daily habits will impact the way you move and carry yourself. So do yourself a favor and keep moving for a healthier body.